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Stop Multitasking and Get More Done!

Research has shown time and time again that multitasking doesn't work. Our brains cannot hold two ideas concurrently. Instead, our brains shift from focusing on one thought to focusing on another thought. It can happen in rapid succession, so we think it's happening concurrently but it's not.

The Downside of Multitasking - It takes more time to finish tasks if you switch between them - versus if you perform them one at a time - because you're not focused or fully engaged. You may make more errors when switching tasks than doing one task at a time. Additionally, switching focus rapidly from task to task causes fatigue, exhaustion, and agitation since we can only be conducting one mental activity at a time. For instance, we can be talking, or we can be reading, we can be reading, or we can be typing, we can be typing, or we can be listening - but we are really never multitasking; we just fool ourselves into thinking so.

Batching - The opposite of multitasking is concentrated time. Give yourself blocks of time during which you are only working on one task. Focus on responding to emails for an hour and not while also checking social media, making calls, or planning a meeting. Give your emails your full focus. You will clear them out with speed and accuracy. When you have a conference call, get up and step away from your monitor. Really listen and be present for the call. You will remember details and fully participate in the exchange of ideas and solutions.

Important Tasks First - Are you perhaps a procrastinator? Do you slide big tasks to the bottom of the pile, especially the ones you don't like doing? This sets up the desire to multitask because you may feel more and more anxious as the day goes on. When you haven't finished what is on your list, you think you'll make up for it by multitasking. However, the real solution is to start the day with action on important things that you want to accomplish that day. Do those tasks first. The sense of relief at getting them completed will be immense. You'll also be calm and relaxed as the day goes on - not stressed and anxious.

Have Unscheduled Time - Entrepreneurs need to be creative for their enterprises to thrive. Science tells us that it's the prefrontal cortex that generates ideas, but the prefrontal cortex can only work on one thing at a time. When you multitask, you tax your prefrontal cortex, which means you'll never solve problems if your prefrontal cortex doesn't get quiet time to work on integrating information. It sounds like an oxymoron, but if you STOP thinking about a problem or topic, new ideas will flow, and you will then be able to solve the problem. Therefore, it's important to make time for blank spaces in your day when you do "nothing" as far as your brain is concerned: not talking, not reading, and not writing. Instead, you can go for a walk, exercise, listen to music, meditate, or just sit and be. Blank spaces help you get work done - try it and see for yourself!

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